Best Propane Lanterns

Updated June 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

11 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
107 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best propane lanterns

Last Updated June 2019

Propane lanterns are used for numerous outdoor activities and excursions. From camping and fishing to hiking and hunting, a propane lantern is a necessity. You can hook a propane lantern to a pack with a carabiner, dangle it from a tree branch, or let it light the night from a picnic table.

Propane lanterns come in various levels of brightness, different sizes, and different weights. Some propane lanterns light with a match, and some are self-igniting. Regardless of what ignites the light, remember that propane lanterns are for outdoor use only.

Purchasing a propane lantern can be a difficult process for someone who is new to the outdoor scene. It can also be overwhelming for someone who doesn’t know much about propane lanterns. In this article, we present the basics on propane lanterns and discuss the facts you need to know before buying one. Because there are so many options available, we also present our shortlist of favorite propane lanterns on the market today.

The Coleman Lantern was first introduced in 1914 by William Coffin Coleman. It featured a bug screen and a flat-base design.

Use cases

There are several primary use cases for propane lanterns: hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing.

Hiking

When hiking, you most likely will be carrying the lantern in your hand or hooked to your pack. It’s important to think about how much space you are willing to devote to a lantern and how much weight you’re willing to carry. Remember that you’ll need to carry any extra propane cylinders, depending on the length of your hike. If you plan to hook the lantern to your pack, keep in mind the type of handle it’s equipped with and what you will hook it to your pack with.

Camping

Campers use propane lanterns to light their tents at night, to see the path when nature calls, and to illuminate the area when cooking. It’s recommended that campers use a larger lantern with several mantles. That way, you only need one lantern to light the entire camp rather than several small lanterns that may not be as bright.

Hunting and fishing

Hunting and fishing require similar propane lanterns. A compact lantern that self-ignites is ideal because it ensures you won’t become stranded in the dark without matches.

Adjustable with matchless lighting

This lantern is the official lantern of the National Park Foundation, and for good reason. It has PerfectFlow technology, which allows for consistent gas flow and light output. There’s a dimmer switch to control the brightness after using the matchless ignition.

Considerations

Number of mantles

The mantle of the lantern provides the bright, white light. Mantles are either ceramic or a mesh material made from fabric mixed with metal. The mesh protects and encases the flame produced by the lantern. The number of mantles dictates the brightness of the light. It’s useful to have multiple mantles in case one of them breaks or burns out.

You can choose between a single-mantle lantern or a double-mantle lantern. The main difference is that double-mantle lanterns are brighter. Notably, it can be difficult to light some mantles. A double-mantle lantern is for a more skilled user.

Capacity vs. brightness

Different lanterns require different amounts of fuel. Thus, some burn brighter for shorter periods, and others burn dimly for longer periods. Some propane lanterns have adjustable fuel gauges on them, so the user can dictate how much fuel is being used for what brightness.

Most propane lanterns fit a 16.4-ounce propane cylinder, but how long that cylinder lasts is unique to each lantern. Depending on how much fuel is being used, one cylinder can last for as long as 12 hours.

Size

Lanterns usually come with a base attached. For some compact lanterns, the base can be disassembled or broken down. This allows for the lantern to be stored in a pack easier. Compact lanterns can also be collapsible, which means the top half of the lantern fits inside the base container.

A normal-size lantern is about one foot tall, plus a handle attached. Compact lanterns, after being broken down, are closer to a height of six inches.

There is also a type of compact lantern that simply attaches to the top of a propane cylinder. This lantern can’t be stood up without a cylinder; that’s the main foundation of the lantern. It may be useful to bring this type of lantern on activities that require a light pack.

EXPERT TIP

Lantern light is measured in lumens, which are units equal to the amount of light emitted per second per a uniform source of one candela. For camping, it’s recommended that you use 35 to 60 lumens for lighting.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Keep spare parts with your lantern. That includes a pack of matches, spare mantles, and extra propane cylinders.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Propane cylinders are a good investment. They can last as long as five to seven years without being opened. Store them for emergencies, or keep them in a disaster kit along with a propane lantern.


Staff  | BestReviews

Propane lantern prices

Propane lanterns can fit into three price categories: inexpensive, mid-range, and expensive.

The inexpensive propane lanterns are smaller and more compact. These are quite affordable, with the cost ranging from approximately $20 to $40.

Mid-range propane lanterns cost from $40 to $60. These are larger and include more features than compact lanterns.

The most expensive lanterns include extras like cases, spare handles, or other spare parts. They can cost $60 or more.

It’s also essential to purchase a propane cylinder to use with the lantern. Those run about $30 for a four-pack or $6 to $7 individually.

Single mantle with chain handle

This compact lantern simply fits atop a propane cylinder. Its easy-to-use design is perfect for first-time lantern users. Light it with matches, and use the pressure-control system to stifle or strengthen the brightness.

Tips

  • Before you buy, think of how much space your lantern will require. Will you set it up on a table or hang it from a branch? Similarly, where will it be stored when not in use?

  • Decide if you’d like to be able to adjust the flame and fuel intake. Some lanterns offer dimmer switches, and others do not.

  • If you plan on trekking out into disastrous weather, purchase a propane lantern that boasts a steady fuel stream in all weather. That way, it has less of a chance of going out.

Other products we considered

There are a great many propane lanterns to choose from, including a few noteworthy ones that didn’t quite make our shortlist. First, there’s the Coleman Propane Gas Lantern with Case. This lantern has Instastart technology, which allows it to have matchless lighting. It also comes with a portable carrying case for ease of use and protection. Then there’s the Primus Micron Lantern, which can reach up to 360 lumens. It fits snugly on a butane canister rather than a propane one.

Did you know that gas light was the major form of lighting from the 1800s to the early 1900s? While the invention of lighting was considered of astronomical importance at the time, people rarely rely on gas for lighting anymore.

FAQ

Q. Can I use a propane lantern indoors?

A. No! It is dangerous to use a propane lantern indoors. Because the lantern is fueled using propane, white gas, or kerosene, it produces carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide exposure can be deadly.

Q. How many cylinders should I bring for extras?

A. It depends on how long your excursion will be. If you plan to burn a lantern on low light using a propane cylinder, one will last about 12 hours. Do the math for how many hours you expect to burn at what brightness.

Q. Can the lantern flame blow out?

A. Yes, but it’s rare for a propane lantern to blow out. The mantles are designed to burn inside the globe of the lantern; the globe is often crack-resistant and fracture-resistant. The lantern should remain properly sealed, so it never blows out while in use.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Samantha
    Samantha
    Writer

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